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Old 09-01-2009, 02:00 PM   #1
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Default Losing Too Much Beer in the sparge???

This is really confounding me and I'm looking for suggestions. I have a 7 gallon brew pot and I boil with it almost full, then I sparge it into the fermenter and when all is said and done I only have about 3+ gallons (< 4 anyway). I am just not understanding how this is possible? I topped off last night with a full gallon after all was said and done and I barely have 4 gallons.

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Old 09-01-2009, 02:17 PM   #2
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Explain your entire process please.

The sparge is when you rinse your grains after the mash.

Are you saying that you lose too much due to boil-off in your kettle?

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Old 09-01-2009, 02:17 PM   #3
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It's common to lose a lot of volume while sparging... but please clarify. What are you sparging? Sparging is where you rinse the mashed grains with ~180*F water to extract additional sugars. You shouldn't sparge directly from the lauter tun into the fermenter.

It sounds like you mean after boiling the wort in a 7-gallon brew pot and cooling it, you have under 4 gallons. This can happen with a low relative humidity, long boil time, or having the burner on too high. Chill shrinkage, hop sludge, and hot break/cold break material can also take up a lot of volume if you're filtering your wort before going to the fermenter.

It could also be that your brewpot is smaller than you think. If it's not graduated, use a measuring cup to measure water into the brewpot, and make gallon markings on the outside to see where you're at. Same with the fermenter. This can also help you see how much you're losing during the boil.

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Old 09-01-2009, 02:19 PM   #4
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First off sparging is what you do when you drain the wort into the boil kettle, not when you drain it into the fermentation vessel.

If you have a 7 gallon brew pot you are probably getting maybe 5-5.5 gal in the kettle before boiling. If you had much more than that it'd boil right on over the second it started rolling. If you start with 5.5 gallons, and evaporate an average of 18 percent per hour, you're going to lose a gallon on a 1 hour boil.

A 7 gallon kettle is cutting it REALLY close for a 5 gallon batch, and is impossible more or less for a 6 gallon batch. It sounds like you aren't measuring your pre-boil volume! Better fix that. Get some sort of stick, pipe, something and pour one gallon increments into the kettle, dip the stick in and mark it w/a sharpie at the water line. This way before you start your boil you just dip the stick in and know exactly how much you have in there.

My guess is you are starting with about 5.5 gallons and burning off almost two during the boil, which is easy if you boil too hard, have the right weather conditions, or have a low-wide boil kettle w/a large surface area. My suggestion is to first measure pre and post boil volume with the stick to know exactly what your evap rate is. Boil the same every time and you will be ok there. If possible get a 10 gallon pot so you can actually have 6 to 7 gallons in the kettle and end up w/5-6 once you are done. My kettle is wide so I know I burn off closer to 1.5 gallons per hour and I sparge off an extra 1/2 gal to compensate.

In your case since you are limited in kettle volume, I'd try to squeeze in as much as possible w/o boiling over, boil gently, and just accept that you'll have to top off a gallon or two of fresh water into the fermentor. It's not a terrible problem.

Hope this helps.

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Old 09-01-2009, 02:24 PM   #5
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My system loss is nearly 3+ gallons.

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Old 09-01-2009, 02:41 PM   #6
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Ok, well I obviously still do not have the vocabulary correct. I mean the process of splashing the wort from the brew pot to the fermenter so it can oxygenate. What is that called? That is what I mean. I had at least 5 gallons boiling last night and lost some to the steam from the boil but after that process I don't know the name of I had only 12 liters (3.17 gallons) in the fermenter. Is there a way to minimize this loss?

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Old 09-01-2009, 02:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XXguy View Post
Explain your entire process please.

The sparge is when you rinse your grains after the mash.

Are you saying that you lose too much due to boil-off in your kettle?
I do not yet have a mash tun. I mash in my boil pot.
I mash.
I sparge (now that I know what it really means )
I boil
I put in hop additions
I chill (w/ immersion chiller)
I ??? (move wort to bucket while aerating )
I pitch
I leave it along.

It is the ??? stage where I am asking what can be done, not to clear the finished product but, to have less trub in the primary when finished. I am hoping to get to a point where I can re-pitch yeast from a prior slurry but I have so much trub that it doesn't seem feasible. Thankx in advance.
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:53 PM   #8
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Hard boils and high boil-off impact color, caramelization and hop utilization. Sounds like you are boiling too hard. Try reducing the heat a little.

If you are leaving wort behind to minimize trub, that's unnecessary. Read up on yeast washing if you want to reuse yeast without the trub.

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Old 09-01-2009, 02:54 PM   #9
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It sounds like you aren't designing your recipe for a finished volume but for a preboil volume. If you started with 5 gallons in the boil pot, then boiled, the difference is due to evaporation. I routinely start a 11G batch with a little more than 14G preboil. After boiling, trub and chiller loss I get my finished volume of 11G. Dont worry about sending the break material to the fermenter. To use the yeast again it should be washed after fermentation. Search yeast washing for step by step directions.

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Old 09-01-2009, 02:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bernerbrau View Post
It's common to lose a lot of volume while sparging... but please clarify. What are you sparging? Sparging is where you rinse the mashed grains with ~180*F water to extract additional sugars. You shouldn't sparge directly from the lauter tun into the fermenter.

It sounds like you mean after boiling the wort in a 7-gallon brew pot and cooling it, you have under 4 gallons. This can happen with a low relative humidity, long boil time, or having the burner on too high. Chill shrinkage, hop sludge, and hot break/cold break material can also take up a lot of volume if you're filtering your wort before going to the fermenter.

It could also be that your brewpot is smaller than you think. If it's not graduated, use a measuring cup to measure water into the brewpot, and make gallon markings on the outside to see where you're at. Same with the fermenter. This can also help you see how much you're losing during the boil.
Excellent.
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